There were 10 more games on tap on Wednesday night as the NHL preseason chugs along. Teams are testing out lines, trying out invitees and prospects and generally tinkering with what they hope will be a Stanley Cup-winning team. No matter what the odds are on success, each team can dream today that tomorrow will bring hockey glory. Pundits and critics can guess who will succeed and who will fail but will and desire are the real tests of character. But aside from impassioned rhetoric, there was action to report. Former Islanders made contributions in only 4 of the 10 matchups. Let us take a look:
Viktor Kozlov had a pair of assists, including one on the powerplay, as the Washington Capitals thumped the host Carolina Hurricanes 4-1 in a preview of what is bound to be a volatile Southeast Division battle this season. The 'Canes and their "scary" new black uniforms are challenging to reclaim the division after missing out on the title and the playoffs by only 2 points. The Caps, who remain largely unchanged, are looking to build on their success. Kozzer, especially, is looking for his 3rd straight 50+ point season, a feat he has yet to accomplish on his career.
Three FIs got on the scoresheet as the Pittsburgh Penguins edged the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2. Pittsburgh's Miroslav Satan kickstarted things with the primary powerplay assist only 2:05 into regulation. The helper was the first point for Satan since joining the Pens. Teammate Ruslan Fedotenko added his own powerplay tally at the 7:52 mark of the opening frame. Tank scored unassisted and is looking to continue his strong showing with his new squad. Finally, Jason Blake assisted on the too-little-too-late goal with only 11 seconds remaining in regulation. Blake, who is seemingly re-crafting his role into that of a playmaker, is pacing the Leafs with 3 assists this postseason.
Colorado winger Ryan Smyth wants to prove that his health and his long term contract are compatible. What Smyth do show on Wednesday night is that does have a scoring touch. Smyth netted 2 goals, including one on the man advantage, as the Avalanche dropped a late lead as they fell to the visiting Los Angeles Kings 4-3 in the SO. Smyth scored a powerplay goal only 3:08 in to play for a 1-0 lead then helped the Avs reclaim the lead 3-2 with his second goal with less than 9 minutes remaining in play. However, Colorado again loss the lead. The Kings forced OT then SO. Smyth, shooting in the 3rd round of the sudden death frame, was stopped on his attempt stifling his chance for the "SO hat trick" (2 regulation goals, 1 SO goal).
Talking about shootouts, a pair of FI teammates had attempts in the Florida Panthers' 3-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers. The newest Florida defenseman, Bryan McCabe won the game on his SO attempt in the 5th round. Winger Richard Zednik, playing in his first game since the near life ending skate accident that sliced a neck artery nearly 8 months ago, missed on his SO attempt in the 4th round. Zednik did play over 16 minutes managing 2 shots. He also found himself in a little scrap and got slammed for 5 penalty minutes! But the really story of the game was the matchup of the ridiculously long, hyphenate-monikered goaltenders. This has to be a record folks: Florida's Chris Beckford-Tseu v. Edmonton's Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers. You have got to love that!
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